Jerusalem, April 2 – Israel’s new government is not bound by understandings reached at a U.S.-hosted Middle East peace conference to pursue the creation of a Palestinian state, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Wednesday.
“It has no validity,” Lieberman, an ultranationalist, said about a joint declaration issued by Israeli and Palestinian leaders at a 2007 gathering in Annapolis, Maryland.
At the conference, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed to further “the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine” in peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
But Lieberman said: “The Israeli government never ratified Annapolis, nor did parliament.”
He said that instead, Israel would follow a course charted by a U.S.-backed peace “road map”.
That peformance-based plan made the creation of a Palestinian state contingent on the Palestinians reining in militants.
It also obligated Israel to freeze all settlement activity on occupied Palestinian land.
Asked about Lieberman’s comments, a political source close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the remarks largely reflected the new leader’s position.
Netanyahu has shied away from endorsing creation of a Palestinian state, an explicit goal of the Annapolis conference and one that was reaffirmed last week by U.S. President Barack Obama.
Netanyahu’s right-leaning government was sworn in on Tuesday.
Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said in response to Lieberman’s remarks that Washington “should take a clear position against this policy before things get worse”.